Asbestos siding: dangerous?
May 23, 2011 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Asbestos siding on our rental: dangerous?

We live in a turn-of-the-century house with pink shakes/siding, and apartment has a large deck/balcony where we spend a good bit of time. My parents recently visited and identified the pink shakes as asbestos(!)

I'm concerned for my family's health, especially since we are about to have a baby. The wiki on asbestos says it is all about inhaling the fibers... but some of the shakes are not in good condition.

Please take a look at the photos and let me know what you think:

Thanks for your time-
posted by cgs to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
If you rent, I'd contact the landlord and express concern. He / She almost certainly has insurance for this type of issue, and can hire experts to determine if your parent's assessment is correct.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:21 PM on May 23, 2011

That kind of siding can easily be primed and painted to seal the asbestos (if it is asbestos).
posted by JayRwv at 5:25 PM on May 23, 2011

Lots of houses still have asbestos siding. It is the installing and removing of this siding that releases the most fibers, and which poses the greatest hazard. Siding shakes just sitting there on the house and not being violently dislodged with a prybar are not likely to cause you or your family any distress.
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:28 PM on May 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

Seconding toodledoodley - You'll cause a greater risk by removing them than just leaving them alone.

That said, back when you could still get asbestos, builders didn't tend to use it solely for siding. You might want to consider paying to have a few other indoor materials tested as well - Insulation and ceiling tiles, for example.
posted by pla at 5:35 PM on May 23, 2011

I'm in the industry, and toodledoodley is right. Just leave the asbestos alone -- as long as it isn't disturbed, it isn't a major risk for fiber release. (Or if it's very badly damaged, like so badly damaged that you could crush it between your fingers, it would be worth reporting to the landlord and having them take care of.)
posted by pie ninja at 5:58 PM on May 23, 2011

Asbestos siding that is properly maintained (ie. sealed and painted) is no danger.
posted by Flood at 7:19 PM on May 23, 2011

I don't think it's dangerous (on the plus side, great fire protection!). Asbestos is really hazardous to the people who mine it, the people who install it, and the people who need to dispose of it. I worked around asbestos doing commercial and industrial renovations when I was in university. As long as we didn't disturb the material, all was fine.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:57 PM on May 23, 2011

Nthing the above. Just don't try to tear it out or hit it with a hammer, and if a car drives through your wall and kicks up a ton of dust, get out of there until abatement is complete.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:12 AM on May 24, 2011

As said previously, if it’s in good condition, there’s no reason to disturb it (or any other potentially asbestos-containing materials in the house). It looks like some areas are damaged – is it friable (can you crush it with your hands)? If so, I’d ask the landlord to have it sampled to determine whether or not it actually is asbestos-containing.
posted by curie at 11:13 AM on May 24, 2011

« Older If this isn't salt, what the hell is it?   |   Children's books about siblings who get along Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.